When you take ownership of your place of employment and have a stake—and a share—in the veterinary practice itself, you’re much more likely to feel satisfied and fulfilled with your practice role. With the mental wellness challenges currently plaguing veterinary professionals, now is the time to rediscover your passion for your career and enjoy heading into work each day. When you gain equity in your practice, you can explore new career opportunities you likely thought would never be possible.
My journey to veterinary medicine
Like most, if not all, veterinary professionals, my passion for animals began in childhood. I had no problem handing a baby doll right back to the giver, because I wanted only stuffed animals. And, my favorite childhood game involved setting up my own veterinary practice. I’d turn my bedroom into a veterinary office and coerce my mom and grandma to be my clients.
As soon as I was old enough, I got my feet wet in the world of veterinary medicine by volunteering at an animal shelter located half a mile from my house, and at age 15, I knew I had found my calling. Already passionate about animal care, I confirmed that love by working at a veterinary practice throughout high school. Then, I was offered the opportunity to go into human medicine. I took a chance, and worked at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation for many years.
However, once my husband and I moved further away, I decided I wanted to be close to home. My husband encouraged me, saying, “You will never be happy until you’re back in veterinary medicine in some way, shape, or form.” So I answered a newspaper ad, and the rest is history.
Stepping into the role as veterinary practice manager
When I first accepted the role as a veterinary practice manager in 1998, I worked at a small practice with no existing official management. The practice owners were focused on being veterinarians, and my managerial role gradually evolved. As the practice owners became more comfortable with me working on their financial accounts, making staff decisions, and performing other upper-level management tasks, in December 2016, they changed my role to hospital administrator.
While I was practice manager, I continued to study, and in 2005, I earned not only my certified veterinary practice manager (CVPM) accreditation, but also graduated from Purdue University’s Veterinary Management Institute program.
Rising to veterinary practice ownership
In 2018, I became co-owner and CEO of the veterinary practice that I had worked for much of my life. I had seen the practice that had started in a small building built in 1961 grow so much that the building had to be remodeled and doubled in size, and then grew to two locations operated by nine veterinarians. The practice was sold in 2020, and I joined Blue Heron Consulting as an operational coach.
Before the practice was sold, Blue Heron had been hired to help the team improve profitability and focus on better teamwork. During one-on-one discussions with the Blue Heron consultants, I let it be known that I wanted to be a practice owner. During the time I was buying the practice, Blue Heron offered advice and empowered me to make business decisions and changes during the transition to new joint ownership—of myself and a veterinarian—not only as a hospital administrator, but also an equity owner.
Change of a lifetime
Becoming an owner and gaining equity in the practice was a huge—but much desired—change. My family owns a third-generation machine shop, so I was born with an entrepreneurial spirit, and had dreamed of being a business owner. Yet, early in my career, owning a veterinary practice was simply not possible. However, once I became an owner, I felt incredibly empowered to make decisions for the good of my team and was able to really make the practice my own.
Practice ownership also greatly changed the financial aspect of my life, and presented an opportunity to stay in the same industry, but to branch out, and fill a different role. As a practice owner, I felt like I could make an impact and create a positive culture at both practice locations for my 60-plus employees. Now, as a Blue Heron operational coach, I work with many practices, rather than only my own, and feel hopeful that by sharing my story endeavors, I will leave the industry a little better.
Inspire Veterinary Partners is paving the way for future veterinary practice ownership, and devoted to improving every team’s happiness and satisfaction. Reach out to us, and learn how practicing gold-standard medicine, receiving best-in-industry benefits, and enjoying a healthy work-life balance can help you love your career again.
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